This question has been closed as general reference: Who is the cat in chapter 17 of Prisoner of Azkaban?

I think the question deserves downvotes but not close votes. If you see comments there, CVers have chosen Wikia and Google as a ground of general reference which is wrong as per community standards.

Why was the question closed? Should it have been?

  • 3
    I've edited this meta question to what you should have asked. When there is disagreement about the fate of a question, you should not appeal to the moderators stating your opinion as incontrovertible fact. Instead, open the debate to the community.
    – user56
    Nov 5, 2012 at 20:22
  • 2
    Considering the recent decision to remove General Reference as a close reason, I've flagged the question to be re-opened.
    – Wipqozn
    Nov 17, 2012 at 18:52

2 Answers 2


The Wikipedia entry for Prisoner of Azkaban describes clearly the relevant plot from chapter 17.

While at his cabin, Hermione discovers Scabbers in Hagrid's milk jug. They leave, and Buckbeak is executed. As Ron, Harry, and Hermione are leaving Hagrid's house and reeling from the sound of the axe, the large black dog approaches them, pounces on Ron, and drags him under the Whomping Willow. Harry and Hermione and Crookshanks dash down after them; oddly, Crookshanks knows the secret knob to press to still the flailing tree. They move through an underground tunnel and arrive at the Shrieking Shack. They find that the black dog has turned into Sirius Black and is in a room with Ron. Harry, Ron, and Hermione manage to disarm Black, and before Harry can kill Black, avenging his parents' deaths, Professor Lupin enters the room and disarms him. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are aghast as Lupin and Black exchange a series of nods and embrace. Once the three students calm down enough to listen, Lupin and Black explain everything. Lupin is a werewolf who remains tame through a special steaming potion made for him by Snape. While Lupin was a student at Hogwarts, his best friends, James Potter, Sirius Black, and Peter Pettigrew, became Animagi (humans able to take on animal forms) so that they could romp in the grounds with Lupin at the full moon. They explain how Snape once followed Lupin toward his transformation site in a practical joke set up by Sirius, and was rescued narrowly by James Potter. At this moment, Snape reveals himself from underneath Harry's dropped invisibility cloak, but Harry, Ron, and Hermione disarm him, rendering him unconscious. Lupin and Black then explain that the real murderer of Harry's parents is not Black, but Peter Pettigrew, who has been presumed dead but really hidden all these years disguised as Scabbers. Lupin transforms Scabbers into Pettigrew, who squeals and hedges but ultimately confesses, revealing himself to be Voldemort's servant, and Black to be innocent. They all travel back to Hogwarts, but at the sight of the full moon, Lupin, who has forgotten to take his controlling potion (the steaming liquid), turns into a werewolf. Sirius Black responds by turning into the large black dog in order to protect Harry, Ron, and Hermione from Lupin. As Black returns from driving the werewolf into the woods, a swarm of Dementors approaches, and Black is paralyzed with fear. One of the Dementors prepares to suck the soul out of Harry, whose patronus charm is simply not strong enough. Out of somewhere comes a patronus that drives the Dementors away. Harry faints.

The Cat, Rat, and Dog clearly listed in the Wikipedia article are Crookshanks, Scabbers, and Black. Unless we are to make the logical leap to assume that Crookshanks transubstantiated himself into McGonagall or some other Cat within the Shrieking Shack, it clearly answers this question.

  • I find it amazing that comment thread went that long without anyone posting this Wikipedia link.
    – user1027
    Nov 5, 2012 at 22:46
  • It was hashed out in chat, but never acted on. Gilles said it wasn't worth bothering with it, and there was some debate on whether this was really conclusive. I thought it was, so I posted it here. Nov 5, 2012 at 22:49
  • I'm glad that you brought the Wikipedia article here and highlighted the appropriate passages. When we were chatting about it, I reached that article by Googling "cat Prisoner of Azkaban". :) Nov 17, 2012 at 21:15
  • @Slytherincess I suppose it's a moot point, now, since GR has been burninated. But oh well. :P Nov 18, 2012 at 6:00

We should only consider as general reference questions that can be easily answered by typing all or part of the question into Google

Who is the cat in Prisoner of Azkaban

What is the very first word of the results?


  • 1
    From that Google query, how can I be sure Crookshanks was in chapter 17?
    – user931
    Nov 3, 2012 at 18:06
  • 1
    Sorry, it's been hashed out on Meta before. Google by itself is NOT a general reference. Neither is Wikia (which as per Slytherincess that first link is). If Wikipedia is among the first 10 hits, it's a different story. Nov 3, 2012 at 18:06
  • 3
    @SachinShekhar you could just read the chapter. There's only one cat in it.
    – Kevin
    Nov 3, 2012 at 18:07
  • 1
    @DVK Sorry, the link Kevin provided is the meta discussion where it was hashed out, and he quoted verbatim the top-voted answer (which had more votes than all the other answers combined). You're welcome, of course, to disagree with what was hashed out.
    – user366
    Nov 5, 2012 at 22:43
  • @MarkTrapp - we had a later discussion that arrived at an opposite conclusion. From Gilles's answer: "On a related note, Google should not be used as a measure to determine whether a question is a legitimate Stack Exchange question. “General reference” does not take Google into account (or at least it should not, by its definition, even if it's sometimes abused). General reference means “look it up in a dictionary / in an encyclopedia / in the manual”. It does not mean “google it”. Nov 6, 2012 at 3:34
  • @MarkTrapp - (from Is Wikia.com general reference?.) Nov 6, 2012 at 3:35
  • @MarkTrapp - moreover, I strongly take Dampe's quote that Kevin provided to be a REQUIRED but NOT a SUFFICIENT reason to calls something a G.R. In other words, if you can NOT find it on Google, it's not G.R. However, it doesn't follow at all that just because you can find it on Google, it will be a G.R. Nov 6, 2012 at 3:37
  • 4
    @DVK Like I said, you're welcome to disagree with the position that Kevin quoted (and what many on the site have, given how recent GR disputes have gone), but the position you and Gilles routinely take regarding General Reference is no where near a community consensus and dismissing it as settled debate is inappropriate and not constructive.
    – user366
    Nov 6, 2012 at 3:48
  • 2
    @DVK The answer you are quoting is about "Is Wikia considered general reference". The quotation from Gilles is an aside, referencing his answer to the question Kevin linked. While Gilles' answer on the Wikia question is accepted, his answer on the "What sites should be considered G.R." is the lowest voted out of all the answers, 14 behind the one Kevin cited. Just because it is referenced as a side-bar on a tangential topic, and upvoted (with no competing answers) does not mean that it overrules the previous community consensus on that specific topic. Google is valid for G.R..
    – Beofett
    Nov 6, 2012 at 14:04
  • @Beofett - Did you see where Kevin's Googled link points to? That's right, Wikia. Nov 6, 2012 at 14:57
  • 3
    @DVK So? Your claim is that "Google by itself is NOT a general reference". The meta discussion clearly indicates that you are in the minority with this opinion.
    – Beofett
    Nov 6, 2012 at 15:12
  • 1
    @DVK I posted a new meta discussion to clarify some of the seeming contradictions.
    – Beofett
    Nov 6, 2012 at 17:27

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .